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Expo a way to 'beat the winter blues'

Published: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT
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Monica Maschak - mmaschak@shawmedia.com YMCA Director of Strategic Health Initiatives Kara Gallagher does sit-ups in a boot camp demonstration during the Community Expo DeKalb High School on Thursday, March 27, 2014.
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Monica Maschak - mmaschak@shawmedia.com Faranda's Executive Chef Andrew Klatt hands out samples of bacon macaroni and cheese during the Community Expo DeKalb High School on Thursday, March 27, 2014.during the Community Expo DeKalb High School on Thursday, March 27, 2014.
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Monica Maschak - mmaschak@shawmedia.com Jack Kolb, with the Sunshine Scoop Shoppe and Bakery, provides samples of their carmel and cheddar cheese "Chicago Mix" popcorn during the Community Expo DeKalb High School on Thursday, March 27, 2014.
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Monica Maschak - mmaschak@shawmedia.com Doris Hohertz tests out a vacuum on some spilled coffee grounds as James Creighton and Brent Rutherford, with Swanson's Discount Vacuums, watch during the Community Expo DeKalb High School on Thursday, March 27, 2014.
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Monica Maschak - mmaschak@shawmedia.com YMCA's Fitness Instructors Carrie Hallahan and Fred Harris demonstrate boot camp exercises during the Community Expo DeKalb High School on Thursday, March 27, 2014.
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Monica Maschak - mmaschak@shawmedia.com Matt Stejskal, with Ray's Chicago BBQ, puts together a sandwich for a customer during the Community Expo DeKalb High School on Thursday, March 27, 2014.

DeKALB – School was the last place Bruno Wilkerson, 7, and his 9-year-old brother, Jordan, thought they’d be during spring break last week.

But that’s exactly where their mother took the DeKalb youngsters for the annual Community Expo at DeKalb High School March 27. While the boys enjoyed the bouncy house the most, Jamie Hurst preferred all the free coupons and giveaways.

“There’s a lot of stuff here for kids,” she said.

According to Rose Treml, executive director of the Sycamore Chamber of Commerce, which sponsored the event with the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, the expo is deliberately scheduled during spring break. Sycamore chamber membership director Diane Breunlin said it gives kids and parents a chance to get out of the house.

The expo was originally for businesses only, Treml said, but opened to the public several years ago. Since then, she said, the number of participating businesses doubled and the attendance increased dramatically.

“This is pretty much what we had last year,” she said as she watched a steady flow of people browse the 125 vendor booths. “Two years ago, it was 70 degrees and attendance was down.”

“Bad weather means a good turnout,” Matt Duffy, executive director of the DeKalb chamber, agreed.

Duffy said the expo allows businesses to share ideas and the public to check out businesses they’re not familiar with, see what local nonprofits have to offer, and try a variety of free food, including mini sandwiches, salads, scalloped corn, pretzels, cookies and cupcakes.

Morgan and Addie Heinisch, ages 12 and 9, respectively, liked the snacks the most. Their mother, Kim, said she liked to “walk around and see what is here.”

“It’s a great experience to see the booths and everything,” Shadow Gentry of DeKalb said. To Gentry, the expo was a social event; he made the rounds greeting people he knew either in the aisles or working at the booths.

Jim and Susan Colgan of Genoa, who were checking the expo out for the first time, said they were surprised by the wide variety of vendors. The couple agreed the expo was a good way to “beat the winter blues.”

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